When it comes to water safety, there might be a tendency to get complacent. After all, it is highly unlikely there will be an accident…right? Anyway, if there’s an accident, you can just grab for the nearest personal flotation device (PFD). It also doesn’t matter what the PFD is, as long as it floats. It will still carry you and the baby. Right?
Actually, there are so many kinds of infant life jackets, and life jackets in general, for a reason. It is not simply for a lot of different styles that you can choose from. Life jacket companies, even if their products are getting more and more attractive, are focused on keeping people safe. This is why you should pay attention to material when choosing a life jacket.
The Kinds of Life Jacket Material
Knowing the kinds of life jacket materials helps you understand how to choose the best life jacket for your baby’s safety.
Inherently Buoyant Life Jackets
Inherent means “in itself.” An inherently buoyant life jacket is one that is buoyant, or floats, without the need for additional actions (such as inflation). When you drop into water, it floats. These kinds of life jackets are usually made of foam, with tiny closed pockets of air trapped inside. Those pockets of air keep the foam floating. The only danger is that foam wears out, causing cracks that release the air. These need to be checked regularly.
Inflatable Life Jackets
You will notice that inflatable life jackets are mostly found on airplanes. This is because they can be folded and stored in very small spaces when uninflated. This is the largest reason many boaters prefer to bring them along. Inflatable life jackets are often designed to inflate when they are submerged in water. They can also be inflated orally in case of design failure or partial inflation. Sometimes, pull-strings inflate the lifejackets.
Why Are Inflatable Life Jackets Not for Infants?
First and foremost, inflatable life jackets require some kind of manual action in case of design failure. If the jacket does not inflate, an infant cannot inflate the jacket by blowing it up. He also cannot pull the inflation pull-strings. There is no guarantee you will be near enough to inflate it for the baby.
Also, even if the life jacket does inflate upon impact with water, it does not always inflate all the way. Life jackets that comply with the minimum of air release will not inflate all the way. Users will be expected to top up the air by blowing. The air already in the life jacket would only keep the user out of the water enough to top up the needed jacket air.
Inflatable Life Jackets: Safety Over Convenience
Because the idea of an accident sometimes feels so far away, it is sometimes tempting to sidestep full safety just a little bit. Inherently buoyant life jackets are, by nature, bulky. Their bulkiness is part of what makes them float. However, when it comes to infants, it is best to give them the best chances of survival in the water, and avoid inflatable life jackets.